I remember it being a cold, windy day on the beach at Half Moon Bay. We were coming home from camp where I had been a counselor for the sixth graders. The sky was overcast, but because we had been camping in the California coastal mountains we had on warm clothing and good sturdy shoes, so other than keeping my hands in my pockets, I was semi-enjoying the beach.
The commotion began in the parking lot where the yellow school buses were stationed. Looking back, I think one of the bus drivers must have been informed over her radio and she passed the dreadful news to counselors and kids standing nearby. The information quickly spread. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.
Around me people began crying. I was stunned, but not so much by the news, since from 1963 the United States had been experiencing a wave of assassinations, especially in the ranks of civil rights workers. I was stunned by the reaction of the crowd. At seventeen I learned that my generation was ready to move on, to leave the racist past behind us and to live like free men and women regardless of ethnicity. I thought it was only me.
As a writer I look back to that moment sometimes, and I think about how important it is to remember that most teenagers do have a moral compass, and that when it counts, clothes, sex, school, social media, and other distractions will be put aside and our common humanity will be embraced. I never forget that, for the most part, our children will be better men and women than we are.
I’m Stan Morris. I was born in Linwood, California, and was raised in Norwalk and Concord, California. In 1972, I moved to New Mexico. I met a girl at college in 1975, set out to score, succeeded, and have been married to her since 1977. She taught elementary Special Education in Texas for five years, and then we moved to Maui. We have two grown boys, both gainfully employed, thank goodness. My wife had the career and I had the job, so I worked at a variety of those before developing a computer business in the late 1980’s. Now we are retired and living on a farm. I garden, watch sports, listen to music, read, and write. I don’t make much money at it, so occasionally I have to ask my wife for my allowance. I like science fiction (Heinlein, Asimov, Weber, Flint), romance (Krentz, Roberts, Morisi, Chesney), mystery (JD Robb, MC Beaton), historical fiction (Lindsey, Stewart), and history books (Shelby Foote, David McCullough, William J. Bernstein.)
My Book post apocalypse genre aimed at 16+
Surviving the Fog–Kathy’s Recollections is about a group of teenagers attending a camp in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The camp was designed to preach abstinence and teach methods of birth control. After a week, the cell phones are not connecting, and the mail has not been delivered, so the camp administrator and most of the counselors leave for a short visit to a nearby convenience store. They never return. Mike faces the fact that something has gone seriously wrong in the world. Then the campers discover that they are surrounded by a mysterious brown fog that appears to cover the earth below 6,700 feet. The story is narrated by fourteen year old Kathy. She focuses on their efforts to survive the elements, outsiders, and each other.
Forty eight teenagers are trapped at a camp in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. The adults are missing, and a mysterious brown fog covers the Earth below. Kathy, age fourteen, did not want attend the camp, but her parents saved her life by sending her. Now she and the other teens must learn how to deal with grief while building a shelter, gathering food, and repelling outsiders. Can they survive the Fog?
Why I write:
On the Moody Blues album, In Search of the Lost Chord, is the lyric, “thinking is the best way to travel.” My inspiration for becoming a writer comes from discovering and reading books like that. As a boy I was watching a new show called Star Trek. Its five year mission; to boldly go where no man had gone before. Zane Grey opened a window into the past of western America. Louisa May Alcott provided glimpses into the feminist thinking of the nineteenth century. William Campbell Gault was exploring racism in teen books about sports, and Jim Kjelgaard was describing how animals and humans interacted in the wild. Robert Heinlein introduced me to the universe. I was inspired by all of these writers and by many more.
The books I have written include, Surviving the Fog, Surviving the Fog-Kathy’s Recollections, Sarah’s Spaceship Adventure, The Colors of Passion and Love, Sam’s Winnings, Kate’s Movie Star, Amy’s Hero, and What’s In My Shorts.
Books I am working on include, Surviving the Fog-Howard the Red, Surviving the Fog-Douglas Lives, Surviving the Fog-Sasha, the Scarred Heroine, Almost Like a Dad, Growing up, The President’s Custodian, Respect, The Governor of Arslan, Jara Mackenzie Versus the Planet Marl, Julee Mackenzie and the First Officer, and Captain Mackenzie and the Last Chance Spaceship.
Book Excerpt (this is the most graphic scene).
From Chapter Four Death; Becomes Us
Then the Chief looked at the prisoner and said, “Bring him.”
The man started yelling at us, and he threatened to kill the Chief. He described some really vile sexual things that he would do to us girls if we didn’t let him go. Some of the kids got really frightened then, and some were so frightened they asked the Chief to let the man go. They even spoke to the man, and they begged him to promise that he would never bother us again.
The man was struggling, and he was a big man and strong, but Ralph, John, and Howard held him firmly, and the other Spears helped them push the man onto the barrel. It tried to roll out from under him, so the Chief called for some kids to hold the barrel firm. The rest of the Spears, and some of the other kids, grabbed the ends of the barrel and held it steady.
The Chief climbed onto the barrel, and Douglas handed him the rope. The Chief struggled to work the noose over the head of the wiggling man who was cursing at him. Once he had the loop around the man’s neck, he tossed the other end of the rope toward a big tree branch. It fell short, and he tossed it again and again, until he made an accurate toss and the end of the rope dropped over the thick branch. Then he jumped down.
Ahmad, John, and a Spear named Rasul grabbed the loose end of the rope, and they pulled it rigid to lift the prisoner’s head. The man kept cursing them. I wasn’t sure, but I thought I heard the Chief ask the man if he wanted to pray or something. I know that behind me, I heard a boy praying quietly.
They lifted the man onto the barrel and helped him steady himself, and then they stepped back. The man wavered, and then he caught his balance. Ahmad tied the other end of the rope under a bole on the trunk of the tree.
The Chief said, “Do you have any last words?”
I don’t think the man truly believed that the Chief was going to execute him until that moment. He turned ashen and began to breathe very heavily. I wondered if he was going to beg for his life.
“I’m sorry about your friend,” he stuttered.
The Chief was behind the barrel on the high side of the root, and as lifted his foot, Howard spoke.
“I’ll help. I didn’t go with you when you fought, so I’ll do this.”
To my surprise, Ralph came forward and said, “I want to do it.”
But the Chief shook his head and refused his request.
Then Desi stepped forward. “I’ll do it. One of us should be a girl.” She got into position behind the barrel.
Some kids were hiding their faces by now, and I was one of them. Maybe some of us were curious, but I think that most of us were scared or horrified at what was about to happen.
The Chief, Howard, and Desi, braced their feet against the barrel, and I heard the clank of shoes as they shoved it. The praying boy raised his voice, but I heard the barrel roll forward, and I heard the man gasping, and then with a loud sound the barrel crashed over to the other side of the root and rolled down the hill. I heard the rasp of the rope as it slid taut against the branch of the tree. The man made horrible noises for a second, and then he got quiet. I turned slightly and saw his feet swaying, and then a few seconds later I smelled a terrible smell which I realized afterward was the smell of his waste as it was released from his body. I felt sick, so I moved a long way from the tree and vomited into some bushes.
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